17 Dec 2024 - 04 Aug 2024

Dining with the Sultan: The Fine Art of Feasting

Los Angeles County Museum of Art


The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) presents Dining with the Sultan: The Fine Art of Feasting, the first exhibition to explore Islamic art in the context of its associated culinary traditions. Featuring some 250 works from 30 public and private collections across the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East, the exhibition celebrates how gustatory discernment was a fundamental activity at the great Islamic courts. 

A fascination with gourmet culture in Islamic lands can be traced back to ninth-century Baghdad. By the 10th century, there was already a vast body of literature on food and its preparation and enjoyment. Dining with the Sultan explores a vast range of objects related to the sourcing, preparation, serving, and enjoyment of food, from recipe manuscripts and crockery to dining apparel and opulent tableware. 

To resituate these artworks in their original context of fine dining, the multisensory exhibition surrounds visitors with the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of historical Islamic foodways. Dining with the Sultan’s immersive installations include LACMA’s 18th-century reception room from Damascus, which will be on view for the first time in the U.S. following its decade-long conservation. This exhibition is curated by Linda Komaroff, Curator and Department Head, Art of the Middle East, at LACMA. 

“For many, if not most of us, our earliest encounter with another culture is not its art, literature, or history but rather its cuisine,” said Komaroff. “Through the prism of our own modern-day fascination with gastronomy, the history of Islamic food culture offers us a powerful conduit for better appreciating and understanding fine art.” 

“Dining with the Sultan is a major exhibition of Islamic art that breaks new ground in its emphasis on a practice shared by all cultures—feasting,” said Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director. “This exhibition also marks the first time that the Damascus Room will be accessible to U.S. audiences and we are excited to share this work from the museum’s permanent collection.” 

LACMA will also present a companion exhibition at Charles White Elementary School. On view January 20–August 10, 2024, Dining with the Sultan at Charles White Elementary School features 60 works from LACMA’s collection of Islamic art and addresses the universal importance of food through Islamic art and dining culture. The exhibition is co-curated by Sandra Williams, Assistant Curator, and Shadi Shafiei, Research Assistant, Art of the Middle East, at LACMA. 

Press release from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Image: Sadik Kwaish Alfraji. A Thread of Light Between my Mother’s Fingers and Heaven. 2023. Image courtesy of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art